The wide humour and heavy-handed sentimentality in Amitabh Bachchan and Rashmika Mandanna’s film succeed best when the emotion periodically rises to the surface without the belabouring. Dealing with death and its consequences is a well-known issue. In the film “Goodbye,” a dispersed Chandigarh family learns about the loss of a cherished family member in different ways. It also deals with what occurs when you return to an empty house where the deceased person’s soul is still very much present.
We recently have seen two movies on the same topic, “Ramprasad Ki Terhvin” and “Pagglait,” both of which centred on large joint families in small towns. The only Chandigarh-specific elements in “Goodbye” are a few sardars and a large group of mourners who have sound Punjabi. However, what we observe is a large enough personal family rather than distant relatives. Three sons, a daughter, an aunt, a grandfather, and the bereaved husband who lost his loving wife are all present.
Another well-known mechanism is how an unexpected death may bring distant family members together. And that is the main goal of Bahl’s most recent movie, who appears to have moved over his #MeToo claims. That and getting the audience to cry. The uncomfortable blend of genres in “Goodbye”—tragi-comedy, broad humour, and heavy-handed sentimentality—works best when the emotion sometimes rises to the surface without being belaboured. And that is due to the bond that the bereaved Harish (Amitabh Bachchan) had with his beloved late wife Gayatri (Neena Gupta).
It is clear that the two get along well. Gupta, who ought to have been on the screen for more time, shines. And Bachchan, after a long time, allows himself to halt and inject true feeling into his character as a husband who is unsure of what to do with himself now that his lodestar has disappeared and a father who is attempting valiantly to bring back the previous level of connection among his flock. Yes, there is the predictable monologue—could a Bachchan movie exist without one of those?
Death serves as a coming-of-age catalyst for the siblings. The insistence on tying up these loose ends-the sons (Pavail Gulati, Abhishekh Khan) agreeing to “sacrifice” their hair in order for their mother’s “aatma” to achieve “Shanti”; the sole daughter Tara (Rashmika Mandanna), who is on her way to becoming a successful lawyer, initially resisting the pressure of “tradition,” but ultimately making peace with it. A young housekeeper who is raised to the family table by a scantly-delivered romance, Tara’s Muslim lover who attends the funeral, Sahil Mehta, Tara’s adoptive kid and his mother’s self-described “favourite” all serve as examples of the “progressive” features. If each character had been given any depth, it would have been possible to develop a very distinct cosmos, but all of them-including Mandanna, who receives the second-most screen time after Bachchan-remain surface-level and speak to rather than to one another.
The attempted humour that surrounds the sorrow is offensive and irritating. The “modern-day” pandit at Haridwar, cheerfully portrayed by Sunil Grover, livens things up a bit but is once again used as a teaching tool for the youth, who unsurprisingly learn to smile instead than growl at one another. The flavour of the connection between an older guy and a younger lady, how they met, and the loneliness of the one left behind are the final things you should remember.